Friday, 8 May 2015

My Thoughts On...Retellings


So when I told my Mum about my book (which was an interesting conversation to say the least!) one of her main questions was 'Would Adults read something retelling a fairy tale?' To which my answer was yes, but it started me thinking...why is it that we like retellings? I know not everyone does but it is an interesting question.

Fairy Tale Retellings

I love fairy tale retellings (and not just because I wrote one!)  I've read some that aren't so great (Insatiable) but others that were fantastic, and it doesn't seem to matter which fairy tale is actually being retold. There are several series which retell a range of fairy tales and I've ended up completely engrossed in them, Blood Prince by Jennifer Blackstream (starts with Before Midnight) and Kingdom by Marie Hall (starts with Her Mad Hatter) both have a fantasy feel to them which made them their own stories but based on the story. Then there's the more 'modern' setting fairy tales, particularly Desperately Ever After which was more of a chick lit featuring various Princesses, and highly enjoyable.

Which brings me to why I think they're enjoyable: Knowing the ending. There's something about a fairy tale that automatically says there's going to be a happily ever after. Knowing that is coming allows you to look at other things, while knowing you're not likely to end up balling your eyes out at the end because the characters didn't fall madly in love and live HEA. Or at least that's what I think!

Myths & Legends

This is not a genre I've read all that many books from, but still end up retellings. In my mind there are two distinct types of myth/legend retelling. There's those that take place in the setting they were originally meant to be in (Betrothal is like this and a retelling of the Arthurian Legend). Then there are modern day reincarnations of legendary characters. Two good series for this were Sisters of Fate (starts with Foretold) and The Blooming Goddess (starts with My Ex From Hell).

Why people like them: I've found I'm a little bit funny about myth and legend retellings, there are some that I've ended up needing to know more about the culture (Foretold was a good example of this) because of how well it wove into the story. But there are some that I've ended up really not liking so much because they weren't quite what I expected (The Quiver of a Kiss was one such, I found myself frustrated with the portrayal of Helen of Troy). So honestly with Myths/Legends I think its all down to the author themselves.

Other Novels

Now this one is interesting. I've recently read The Baskerville Affair (starts with A Study in Silks) which was a steampunk extension of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Except that when I read Sherlock Holmes at school I hated it, yet with this retelling I loved it. Another one I enjoyed was Masque of the Red Death based on the Edgar Allen Poe's short story of the same name. I enjoyed the series, though I didn't actually read Poe's story until afterwards. Then there's the Master of the Opera seriel (starts with Passionate Overturewhich was a modern retelling of Phantom of the Opera, a story I love but the original I hate.

Other novels retelling classic stories are a weird one. I try not to judge them based on the original and sometimes that works, but I also think that to some extent they should be treated as their own works. On the other hand, I do like it when the author stays somewhat true to certain things (like Sherlock in The Baskerville Affair, he felt like he was truely Sherlock Holmes).

These are definitely personal taste...but what do you think of retellings? (And are there any you'd recommend!)